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James Smith

Building a better future out of code

So what's stopping you?

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Tomorrow it will be 300 days until the General Election. I’ve decided to stand, and have been looking into the practicalities of it all (see the blog archive for more articles on this).

In this blog, I want to ask a question. I know that a lot of people out there are politically engaged, and are angry with the choices available to them. I see regular attacks on all the major parties, and a massive distaste for the rise of UKIP. So, the question is this:

What’s stopping you?

Our democracy is far from perfect, but the way I see it, if you’re angry with the choices available to you, you only have two options:

  1. Take to the streets
  2. Create your own alternative

Note that “tweet angrily” isn’t on there, and so unless you’re taking option 1 and are going to camp out in Parliament Square in some kind of British Spring, you’re left with option 2.

The great thing about our system is that you can create your own option, and the great thing about now is that that option is available to you in just 300 days’ time.

Are you avoiding it because it’s too complicated? Well, I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m working it all out as I go along in a series of blog posts, so that might help.

Is it because it won’t make a difference? In a way, that’s not the point. That’s like saying you won’t vote. The system doesn’t work if people don’t take part, and yes, most of them will lose, but that’s how we decide together.

How about because the major parties have it all sewn up? Well, things are changing. With the web, social media, and other things that the majors don’t really get, there is an amazing opportunity for disruption of the status quo. There’s a lot of talk about how democracy will change in the future. Well, the future doesn’t come unless someone does it, so let’s do it.

Don’t know enough? Well, neither do they, I guarantee you; that’s why they’re surrounded by advisors. Fortunately we have advisors too - each other.

Don’t know what to actually stand for? There are plenty to pick from that you can join, or you can help the OpenPolitics Manifesto project, an open-source election manifesto that anyone can edit. Taking part and holding your opinions up for inspection is a great way to refine and improve them, and you won’t be simply shot down for saying something stupid; we all do that.

So, what’s left? That’s it’s just too much hard work?

Guess what. Like anything worth fighting for, democracy is hard work, and a long slog, but someone has to do it. However, the more of us do it, the greater support network we will have, and the wider we can spread the load.

Join me on the adventure, and we’ll change the world. Maybe not this time, maybe not next, but if the “traditional” political class is still running the country when we’re old and grey, wouldn’t that be a wasted opportunity?


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